Following reports of Marks & Spencer's sharp drop in profits, eCommerce specialist Tryzens has said that while M&S's performance can in part be attributed to a challenging retail market, it has been too slow to adapt to changing shopping habits.
For Tryzens' CEO, Andy Burton, a keener focus on a personalised customer experience, could help M&S turn the ship around.
M&S released its annual reports this week, revealing that annual pre-tax profits fell by almost two-thirds to £66.8m as sales of food, clothing and homeware all declined. The retailer plans to close 100 shops by 2022, accelerating a modernisation programme that it says is "vital" for its future.
Upon release of the figures M&S's CEO, Steve Rowe admitted that company must evolve its digital offerings or face further decline and store closures, stating that its website was too slow and that its order fulfilment processes struggled to meet demand.
Commenting on the results, Tryzens' Andy Burton said: "M&S's figures make for unhappy reading and it's clear that it has some work on its hands to turn things around. Despite being a stalwart of the British high street for decades with a loyal customer base, it's clear that it has been too slow to adapt to the new era of shopping. Although M&S has – rightly – diversified its product lines to appeal the next generation of shoppers while trying to keep its loyal customer base – it has struggled to completely satisfy either group of customers, with many left unsure what M&S stands for.
"With multiple customer segments, it is possible for M&S to appeal to different customers at the same time and win back the loyalty it once inspired in its customers. But to do that, it needs to be sharper on customer focus, offering a personalised, tailored experience that is contextually aware and consistent across instore, online or on mobile devices. For less technologically savvy customers, refreshing the instore experience will be the essential ingredient for long term success, but inspiring loyalty amongst the next generation will require a much more engaging and cohesive experience across its digital and physical properties.
"M&S has been investing heavily in technology and the recent launch of its Sparks Card has the potential to really drive customer loyalty. However, it doesn't seem to be leveraging its customer data as effectively as it could to deliver a consistent experience across channels and greater relevancy through personalisation. By taking this step, M&S can ensure its physical and digital channels are extensions of each other, which will ensure that it can meet the needs of its increasingly diverse customer base and, ultimately, reignite the spark that made it a high street staple in the first place," Andy concluded.